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When I Was a Boy, America Was a Better Place [Must Read]
Townhall ^ | June 10, 2008 | Dennis Prager

Posted on 06/09/2008 11:35:17 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

The day the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced, I said to my then-teenage son, "David, please forgive me. I am handing over to you a worse America than my father handed over to me."

Unfortunately, I still feel this way.

With the important exception of racial discrimination -- which was already dying a natural death when I was young -- it is difficult to come up with an important area in which America is significantly better than when I was a boy. But I can think of many in which its quality of life has deteriorated.

When I was a boy, America was a freer society than it is today. If Americans had been told the extent and number of laws that would govern their speech and behavior within one generation, they would have been certain that they were being told about some dictatorship, not the Land of the Free. Today, people at work, to cite but one example, are far less free to speak naturally. Every word, gesture and look, even one's illustrated calendar, is now monitored lest a fellow employee feel offended and bring charges of sexual harassment or creating a "hostile work environment" or being racially, religiously or ethnically insensitive, or insensitive to another's sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, all employers in California are now prohibited by law from firing a man who has decided to cross-dress at work. And needless to say, no fellow worker can say to that man, "Hey, Jack, why not wear the dress at home and men's clothes to work?" An employer interviewing a prospective employee is not free to ask the most natural human questions: Are you married? Do you have a child? How old are you? Soon "How are you?" will be banned lest one discriminate on the basis of health.

When I was boy, what people did at home was not their employer's business. Today, companies and city governments refuse to hire, and may fire, workers no matter how competent or healthy, who smoke in their homes. Sarasota, Fla., the latest city to invade people's private lives, would not hire Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy if they applied for a job.

When I was a 7-year-old boy, I flew alone from New York to my aunt and uncle in Miami and did the same thing coming back to New York. I boarded the plane on my own and got off the plane on my own. No papers for my parents to fill out. No extra fee to pay the airline. I was responsible for myself. Had I run away or been kidnapped, no one would have sued the airline. Today, fear of lawsuits is a dominant fact of American life.

When I was a boy, I ran after girls during recess, played dodgeball, climbed monkey bars and sat on seesaws. Today, more and more schools have no recess; have canceled dodgeball lest someone feel bad about being removed from the game; and call the police in to interrogate, even sometimes arrest, elementary school boys who playfully touch a girl. And monkey bars and seesaws are largely gone, for fear of lawsuits should a child be injured.

When I was boy, I was surrounded by adult men. Today, most American boys (and girls, of course) come into contact with no adult man all day every school day. Their teachers and school principals are all likely to be women. And if, as is often the case, there is no father at home (not solely because of divorce but because "family" courts have allowed many divorced mothers to remove fathers from their children's lives), boys almost never come into contact with the most important group of people in a boy's life -- adult men. The contemporary absence of men in boys' lives is not only unprecedented in American history; it is probably unprecedented in recorded history.

When I was a boy, we had in our lives adults who took pride in being adults. To distinguish them from our peers, we called these adults "Mr.," "Mrs." and "Miss," or by their titles, "Doctor," "Pastor," "Rabbi," "Father." It was good for us, and we liked it. Having adults proud of their adulthood, and not acting like they were still kids, gave us security (as well as something to look forward to in growing up). Today, kids are surrounded by peers twice, three, four times their age.

When I was a boy, the purpose of American history textbooks was to teach American history. Today, the purpose of most American history texts is to make minorities and females feel good about themselves. As a result, American kids today are deprived of the opportunity to feel good about being American (not to mention deprived of historical truth). They are encouraged to feel pride about all identities -- African-American, Hispanic, Asian, female, gay -- other than American.

When I was a teenage boy, getting to kiss a girl, let alone to touch her thigh or her breast (even over her clothes) was the thrill of a lifetime. Most of us could only dream of a day later on in life when oral sex would take place (a term most of us had never heard of). But of course, we were not raised by educators or parents who believed that "teenagers will have sex no matter what." Most of us rarely if ever saw a naked female in photos (the "dirty pictures" we got a chance to look at never showed "everything"), let alone in movies or in real life. We were, in short, allowed to be relatively innocent. And even without sex education and condom placement classes, few of us ever got a girl pregnant.

When I was a boy, "I Love Lucy" showed two separate beds in Lucy and Ricky's bedroom -- and they were a married couple. Today, MTV and most TV saturate viewers' lives with sexual imagery and sexual talk, virtually all of which is loveless and, of course, non-marital.

When I was boy, people dressed up to go to baseball games, visit the doctor and travel on airplanes. Today, people don't dress up even for church.

When I was a boy, Time and Newsweek were well written and relied little on pictures and illustrations. Today, those magazines often look like adult comic books by comparison. They are filled with large illustrations and photos, and they dumb down the news with features like "Winners and Losers" and "Who's Up and Who's Down." And when I was a boy, it would have been inconceivable for Time to substitute anything, let alone a tree, for the flag planted by the marines on Iwo Jima.

One might argue that these are the same laments that every previous older generation has expressed -- "Ah, when I was young" But in America, that has not been the case. In America, the older generations tended to say the opposite -- "When I was a kid, things were worse."

Can we return to the America of my youth? No. Can we return to the best values of that time? Yes. But not if both houses of Congress, the presidency and the Supreme Court move the country even further leftward. If that happens, many of the above noted changes will simply be accelerated: More laws restricting "offensive" speech will be enacted; litigation will increase and trial lawyers will gain more power; the American military will be less valued; trees will gradually replace the flag as our most venerated symbol; schools will teach even less as they concentrate even more on diversity, sexuality and the environment; teenage sex will be increasingly accepted; American identity will continue to be replaced by ethnic, racial, gender or "world citizen" identity; and the power of the state will expand further as the power of the individual inevitably contracts. It's hard to believe most Americans really want that.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: dennisprager; education; politicalcorrectness; prager; society; talkradio
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Wealth and technology wise, we are better off now, but I miss that country he's talking about. If you're over 40, you know what I mean. If you're not, I kind of feel sorry for you.
1 posted on 06/09/2008 11:35:17 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

its all related to entropy and the second law of thermal dynamics

2 posted on 06/09/2008 11:43:42 PM PDT by seastay
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I wrote a poem on THIS site about this very thing, about 3.5 years ago. It said much of the same things.

most responders just made fun of it, though.

3 posted on 06/09/2008 11:45:31 PM PDT by Rca2000 ( Hitler promised "change" too. "to the trains, people, to the trains".)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The silly part is when I talk to younger people at gatherings they realy think they have more freedom now. Im not quite at that 40 bracket yet but I do see a huge difference in things since I was a teen. For starters PC was the IBM PC ....

4 posted on 06/09/2008 11:46:47 PM PDT by BhaktaSteve
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
If you're over 40, you know what I mean. If you're not, I kind of feel sorry for you.

One of the pillars of Osama's campaign is that a McCain presidency would be Bush's 3rd term. McCain has responded that an Obama presidency would be Carter's 2nd term. While McCain's response is clever and truthful, it will be largely ineffective since no one under 40 has any appreciation of how utterly wretched the Carter administration was.

5 posted on 06/09/2008 11:48:12 PM PDT by rhinohunter (Welcome back to the GOP "glory" days of Gerald Ford and Bob Michel)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Sad, but true.

6 posted on 06/09/2008 11:54:02 PM PDT by TheWasteLand
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To: rhinohunter

Your tagline is right on.

The “lovable losers” are in charge- and unwilling to resisit the nutcases like pelosi and reid who are damaging the country.

Why aren’t Republicans screaming about democrats blocking drilling for 7 seven years! ?

7 posted on 06/09/2008 11:55:36 PM PDT by Finalapproach29er (Iraq's WMD's will be found in Syria after Bush leaves office.God will vindicate a righteous decision)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I am twenty somthing years old, but golly I agree with this writer!! I have an afinity for the past (America’s especially), even of 20+ years ago (who’d of though the 80’s would be better than what we have NOW?).

I can’t stand modern-Athiestic-Yuppie Loving-Foolish America!!

I wish we would return to the 1950’s (values wise-and I really don’t care about all the technology)..we could survive without it!! If you can’t, well then you’re lost.

Better yet lets return to the victorian era, afterall I describe myself as a “victorian era male” pre-feminism when Modern America turns most of my peers (and tries to with me) into “whimps” or womenizers (rap culture, etc..) or worse!!

8 posted on 06/09/2008 11:56:53 PM PDT by JSDude1 (It;s only a protest vote if your political worldview is Republican 1st, conservative 2nd-pissant)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
If you're over 40, you know what I mean. If you're not, I kind of feel sorry for you.

I'm under 40--hell, I'm under 30--and it's even more depressing to see my contemporaries googly eyed over B. Hussein, completely falling for the BDS and "the Republicans are gonna bring back the draft and keep me from smoking pot and having sex with strangers" hoax.

Remember: Hitler was big with the young, too.

9 posted on 06/10/2008 12:01:01 AM PDT by GOP_Raider (DU: Standing athwart history yelling "$#@$# you mother$#@$#er!")
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; m18436572; InShanghai; xrp; ...

Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.  

10 posted on 06/10/2008 12:05:38 AM PDT by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I remember when residents of the SF Bay Area used to snicker at what Los Angelinos had to endure. Freeways that were virtual parking lots, uncontrolled urban sprawl, soaring crime rates (except Oakland and Richmond), and a cluttered generic landscape that stretched as far as the eye could see. They don’t snicker anymore.

11 posted on 06/10/2008 12:06:07 AM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I don’t know how much I agree with him. The end of the Cold War and fall of the Soviet Union make it a better world today. I remember ‘duck and cover’ and the fear we had of nuclear attack.

The end of racial discrimination, lynchings of Blacks, etc. is good, as Praegar states. Also, the end of gender discrimination is also a sign of progress. When I was young, the want ads were divided up by ‘White Male,’ ‘Black Male,’ ‘White Female,’ ‘Black Female.’ Also, there is less prejudice against Jews today.

I disagree about his statement about not being exposed to males. In the 1950s and 60s there was concern about what was called ‘momism,’ caused, it was believed, by young boys not being exposed enough to adult men.

In the suburbs, the men were gone all day (and often into the evening) while the wives took care of the children. Most teachers were women, even in the high schools. In the high school I went to, there were probably twice as many female teachers as male.

Things have changed. Some things are better and some are worse, but that’s the nature of life. We can never stick our foot into the same river twice.

12 posted on 06/10/2008 12:07:16 AM PDT by FFranco
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To: BhaktaSteve
Yeah, I grew up in the 1980s, and can agree with you on most of these points.

"No papers for my parents to fill out."

That one is as easy to explain as why restaurants fear customer retaliation in the courtroom over hot coffee. Everything is stupid now because of the lawsuit threat, and the scumbag lawyers that push this hostility toward Americans.

"MTV and most TV saturate viewers' lives with sexual imagery and sexual talk..."

Bill Clinton and Madonna are responsible for this. Their glamorization of sin is why everyone under 25 has an STD these days.

"Kids are surrounded by peers twice, three, four times their age."

I once read that the average adult mentality is that of a 15 year old kid, so it is fair to say that many adults are immature. Most of them are too irresponsible and stupid to have children, but they do anyway. That's why we are surrounded by fickle, callous and equally vacuous idiots who worship at the altar of Britney Spears instead of Jesus. That would also explain why a stupid fool like Shepard Smith is on the TV at 6 PM CST each evening.

Where is the humility and self-respect? That's long gone! Generation Me is all about egocentrism and instant self-gratification, in addition to acting like an immature group.

13 posted on 06/10/2008 12:08:11 AM PDT by Prole (Pray for the families of Chris and Channon.)
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To: JSDude1
Well, the dentistry is better today. Millions of parents are doing something that would have been unthinkable in the 50s, 60s, or 70s -- educating their children at home. Home schooling is still largely under the radar, but has the potential to radically alter American perceptions concerning the obligations of the citizen to the state. Millions of children no longer assume that "The" Government has an automatic right to claim 30 hours a week of their time. Millions of parents no longer consider it acceptable to render unto Caesar that which is God's -- their children. People are losing faith in the prime support of supercilious secularism, the public school system. As my favorite marxist Jesuit, the late Ivan Illich wrote, I suspect that our greatest days are yet to come.
14 posted on 06/10/2008 12:09:57 AM PDT by RJR_fan (Winners and lovers shape the future. Whiners and losers TRY TO PREDICT IT.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I remember playing baseball with the boys until we were in the 7th grade. When it was my turn at bat, the boys wanted to take my place but I was a much better batter than they were. My nieces, nephews,cousins,my younger sister and I played it at home so most of us got to be pretty good. I could climb trees with the best of them. We had a huge black walnut tree behind the house.My sister and I use to climb it to the top. The wind would be blowing and that tree was swaying back and forth. It is a wonder that we did not fall out of that top. My dad could work on anything and people would bring their cars for him to work on. He had a thing shaped like a kids’ swing set to pull the motor out. I use to walk on top of that and one day I fell off. My mother, aunt, and the usual siblings, and cousins thought it had killed me but I just had the breath knocked out. The good ole days when students were really taught and they had better learn it and get decent grades or they would be left behind. I only remember one fight. It was between 2 girls and one pulled the earring out of the other girl's ear.
15 posted on 06/10/2008 12:10:49 AM PDT by MamaB
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To: qam1
When I was a teenage boy, getting to kiss a girl, let alone to touch her thigh or her breast (even over her clothes) was the thrill of a lifetime.

In today's world, would that be before or after the girl files sexual harassment or attempted rape charges?

That and teenage boys are constantly told to question their sexuality (their masculinity) day in and day out by the public schools.

16 posted on 06/10/2008 12:12:46 AM PDT by rabscuttle385 (The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem. — Milton Friedman)
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To: GOP_Raider
Eerily similar...
17 posted on 06/10/2008 12:31:42 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (McCain could never convince me to vote for him. Only the Marxist Obama can!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I remember my father teaching me to shoot — when I was 8.

18 posted on 06/10/2008 12:31:48 AM PDT by TennesseeProfessor
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To: GOP_Raider
They are all d@mned fools.

This is why I do not get along with the vast majority of idiots that compose our generation.

Obama this, and Obama that.

I dare them to explain what taxes will be like if he gets into office.

Most of them don't know how to respond to my question.

19 posted on 06/10/2008 12:38:14 AM PDT by Prole (Pray for the families of Chris and Channon.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
20 posted on 06/10/2008 12:40:22 AM PDT by Berlin_Freeper (McCain will be the first ex-POW President.)
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